Coâ Toâ elec­tric­ity prices: A highly charged is­sue

Pic­turesque Coâ Toâ Dis­trict has seen rapid de­vel­op­ment over the past 30 years but much of its po­ten­tial has re­mained un­tapped due to ex­tor­tion­ate elec­tric­ity prices. Now, a pi­o­neer­ing un­der­sea ca­ble project hopes to con­nect the re­gion to the na­tional gri

Outlook - - CONTENTS - By Tieán Thaønh

Coâ Toâ Dis­trict has seen re­cent de­vel­op­ment but much of its po­ten­tial has re­mained un­tapped due to ex­tor­tion­ate elec­tric­ity prices. A pi­o­neer­ing un­der­sea ca­ble project hopes to change this.

"It re­ally raises my eye­brows," Leâ Thò Loäc said in re­sponse to the small for­tune she spends each month to set­tle her elec­tric­ity bill.

Loäc, 38, spends al­most US$2,000, or 40 mil­lion ñoàng, on elec­tric­ity ev­ery month to run her gro­cery store and guest­house in the cen­tre of the town of Coâ Toâ in the is­land dis­trict of Coâ Toâ.

Coâ Toâ Dis­trict is lo­cated off­shore of the north­east­ern prov­ince of Quaûng Ninh. The dis­trict in­cludes two main com­munes, Ñoàng Tieán and Thanh Laân, which go by the names of two ma­jor is­lands, part of dozens of other is­lands and islets. It has a pop­u­la­tion of over 5,000.

That huge elec­tric­ity bill doesn't come from the fact that Loäc has been us­ing three re­frig­er­a­tors and three freez­ers for her store and 14 air-con­di­tion­ers for her 10 room guest­house, but more specif­i­cally it comes from the ex­or­bi­tant price she must pay for each kilo­watt of elec­tric­ity.

Nguyeãn Thò Möôøi, 40, Loäc's neigh­bour from across the street, also pays a high elec­tric­ity bill of 7 mil­lion ñoàng each month, not to men­tion her cost for run­ning a pri­vate elec­tric gen­er­a­tor that her fam­ily uses to sup­ply elec­tric­ity to their jel­ly­fish pro­cess­ing busi­ness, which is lo­cated far from the cen­tre of town.

The price of guest­house in the dis­trict is also ridicu­lously high, from 500-700 thou­sand ñoàng per night for an air-con­di­tioned room, which is twice the price in de­cent mini ho­tels on the main­land. Loäc, Möôøi and all the other house­holds in the dis­trict have to pay a price for that is three to five times higher than the price on the main­land. One of the main rea­sons for the un­pleas­antly high elec­tric­ity price is that the dis­trict, which is over an hour's jour­ney by hy­dro­foil from the main­land, has not yet been con­nected to the na­tional grid. The whole dis­trict is sup­plied with elec­tric­ity gen­er­ated from state-owned gen­er­a­tors. But this will soon change, as an am­bi­tious project to con­nect the na­tional grid to the is­land us­ing sub­ma­rine ca­bles was be­gun in last Novem­ber and is ex­pected to be com­pleted this Oc­to­ber. Since its es­tab­lish­ment in 1994, the dis­trict has seen steady and sig­nif­i­cant changes in all as­pects of life. The pop­u­la­tion in­creased from 29 house­holds with 140 peo­ple to 650 house­holds with 5,000 mem­bers. In the 1990s only a few house­holds were able to ac­cess elec­tric­ity, but now all can use elec­tric­ity for 23 hours a day, only suf­fer­ing an out­age from 5am to 6 am. The dis­trict's in­hab­i­tants now also have ac­cess to tele­vi­sion and in­ter­net ser­vice that is of the same qual­ity as the main­land. The dis­trict, known for its fish­ery and seafood pro­cess­ing, also has great po­ten­tial for tourism and ser­vices, such as boat main­te­nance, which will re­quire a sta­ble sup­ply of elec­tric­ity at a rea­son­able price. Quaûng Ninh's au­thor­i­ties felt a sense of ur­gency - both from

the peo­ple's call for a cheaper elec­tric­ity charge and the de­mand to un­lock the dis­trict's un­tapped eco­nomic po­ten­tial - to hook the dis­trict to the na­tional grid in or­der to re­duce the price of elec­tric­ity, boost the dis­trict's econ­omy and im­prove the qual­ity of life for all in­hab­i­tants.

The prov­ince im­me­di­ately called for a fea­si­bil­ity study and three months later a de­ci­sion was made to im­ple­ment the project us­ing un­der­sea ca­bles to bring elec­tric­ity to the dis­trict.

The pro­vin­cial au­thor­i­ties con­firmed that when the is­land is con­nected to the na­tional grid, the elec­tric­ity price in the dis­trict will be as low as the price on the main­land.

Be­sides tra­di­tional agri­cul­ture and fish­ery, the dis­trict's main in­come for the last 30 years, tourism has grad­u­ally be­come an im­por­tant part of the eco­nomic struc­ture for this is­land dis­trict, where some of the beaches are be­lieved to be the best in Vieät Nam.

The dis­trict is ex­pected to re­ceive a wave of tourists since the sta­ble, low-priced elec­tric­ity sup­ply will cut down the cost of the dis­trict’s hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try.

Loäc said she was not wor­ried about a rapid pop­u­la­tion in­crease or an in­crease in the dis­trict's busi­nesses once the na­tional grid comes to town.

"The more, the merrier. I want

"When the dis­trict is con­nected to the na­tional grid this Oc­to­ber as ex­pected, we will wit­ness the take-off of Coâ Toâ's econ­omy in the very near fu­ture."

to see more peo­ple com­ing here and more ser­vices ap­pear in the dis­trict be­cause that will ben­e­fit both the dis­trict and the in­hab­i­tants," she said.

Loäc also pro­vides a mo­tor­bike-rental ser­vice, which is in­cred­i­bly cheap at only 50,000 ñoàng, or just over two US dol­lars for an hour.

Leâ Ñoâng, head of the en­ergy di­vi­sion un­der the Quaûng Ninh Trade and In­dus­try Depart­ment, said sup­ply­ing Coâ Toâ with elec­tric­ity from the na­tional grid had a great eco­nomic sig­nif­i­cance.

"The project, which costs around 1,107 bil­lion ñoàng ($52 mil­lion) will help turn a 26ha an­chor­age into a fish­ing boat main­te­nance port for the en­tire north­ern re­gion," Ñoâng said.

"Fish­er­man will have enough ice to make longer jour­neys in­stead of hav­ing to re­main in ar­eas sur­round­ing the dis­trict."

"When the dis­trict is con­nected to the na­tional grid this Oc­to­ber as ex­pected, we will wit­ness the take­off of Coâ Toâ's econ­omy in the very near fu­ture," Ñoâng said.

Work­ers pre­pare to plant posts to bring na­tional grid elec­tric­ity to house­holds on Coâ Toâ Is­land.

One of the key elec­tric­ity posts for the project “Con­nect­ing Coâ Toâ to the na­tional grid.”

In­fra­struc­ture has been built in a hurry to pave the way for con­nec­tion of the na­tional grid to the Is­land.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Viet Nam

© PressReader. All rights reserved.